Sharan Kaur, whose original name was Sharni, was born in a Hindu family in the northwest of the Punjab where more than ninety percent of the population was Pathan or Afghan. Her father was a petty shopkeeper. As soon as she became sixteen years old, she was married to a young man, Jagat Ram, of a nearby village. After a happy marriage, she left, along with her groom and the marriage party, to the village of her in-laws. As the bridal procession was passing through a thick forest, a party of armed goons attacked the party. They ordered them to surrender the cash, valuables, and the bride. The helpless party was unarmed and requested the dacoits to take everything, but leave them with the bride. Their request was rejected and they were forced to flee, leaving the bride in her palanquin. She cried and begged them to let her go with her groom. The dacoits dragged her out of the palanquin and presented her to their chief. He said, “Detain her for the time being. I would like to marry such a beautiful and charming young girl.”
The poor groom was disappointed and depressed. He did not want to go to his village and become the laughingstock of the whole village. It was the first half of the nineteenth century and Hari Singh Nalwa was the governor of the Pathan province. He was the bravest general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who bestowed on him the title of Nalwa, as he had single-handedly killed a (Nul) lion. Before the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Pathans and Afghans from the west of Punjab had invaded and looted India for eight centuries. It goes to the credit of generals like Hari Singh Nalwa that these invasions were stopped forever. He ruled the rebel Pathans of that region so fearlessly, courageously and wisely that Pathan parents used the name of Nalwa to scare their children to keep them quiet.